Love is everything.

4 04 2010

The other day I was sitting on a patio at a local coffee joint and watching people walk by (in a totally non-creepy way!). It was the first day of spring in Toronto, love seemed to be in the air (this won’t get any cheesier I promise) and I couldn’t help but wonder what made relationships tick.  At that very instant, I was struck by a profile on This was the profile of “Love is Everything“. I was amazed at how many friends Frank (the dude behind the profile) had – over 14,000! As I spent some time going through his page on Tribe I realized some critical things –

a. Frank figured out what his brand stands for, but he didn’t stop at that. Most importantly, he found a way to translate his brand promise into a cause worth pursuing.

b. Frank is truly authentic! He solely focuses on advancing his message through posts that add value to the community. He does this by giving his community content that furthers the cause.

c. Frank isn’t obsessed with himself. In fact, he hardly talks about himself on his profile.

In today’s digital economy, companies absolutely need to engage and involve their customer communities if they want to regain their business. Unfortunately, just having a great brand and brand promise is not sufficient.

A few days ago, John Bell blogged on the “Utility Brief”. I’d like to leave you with a quote from his article. Hopefully you’ll ponder over this post and share your thoughts.

“Today, consumers want their brands to deliver more value through utility, entertainment or information (the latter two are really just forms of utility). They want high quality products and services but expect brands to go beyond that to keep them as customers or to at least earn their advocacy.”

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Personal Empowerment and Community Building through Social Media

23 03 2010

Source: Flickr: Franco Folini "Graffiti on a truck: renuer"

Throughout history, the development of technology has always sparked counter-cultural movements that have looked to subvert popular culture and societal norms.

Many of these movements were inspired by the situationist movement of the 1960s. However, all these movements did have 2 common underlying motives. They all looked to improve personal empowerment and encouraged the building and growth of communities.

One such movement led to the use of print media to create the “Whole Earth Catalog“. This catalog promoted openness, user-generated content (yes!..back in the late 60s) and stood for the democratization of information and collective consciousness. Out of this catalog was born a message board called Whole Earth Lectronic Link (WELL) in 1985. This online message board looked to again subvert culture by attempting to use technological tools (initially built for societal control) to bring about Personal Empowerment and a sense of community. Of course, I don’t need to remind you that the same underlying motives form the foundation of Social Media and the web 2.0 world as we know it.

I therefore strongly feel the success of innovation in the Social Media world will be heavily dependent on whether or not newer ideas take the fulfillment of these very motives/ideals a step further. Yes, I know there are many other factors that will influence success, but I believe that these cultural motives are critical to laying a foundation that can withstand growth.

I think a good example is Foursquare (and of course other similar location based services) because it looks to improve personal empowerment by giving businesses the ability to better cater to their customers’ needs. Are there other examples of innovation in social media that adhere to these two principles? Your input will make this post and my follow-up a lot more interesting.


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Social Media Measurements: A shift in culture?

2 03 2010

House of Tweets, Source: How MPs use Twitter (Globe and Mail)

I blogged a couple weeks ago about the need for a cultural shift before people start accepting various metrics for social media measurement. Well, it seems like that shift has already begun. Here’s an article from the Globe that talks about how MPs in Canada are using twitter to propagate their messages and engage in conversations with their followers. It’s interesting to notice that the analysis in this article was done by looking at a free tool called “Twitalyzer”. Metrics such as “Clout”, “Influence” and “Generosity” were taking seriously in this analysis. This is great news for all us social media geeks and junkies. This is only a sign of great things to come.


Social Media… measurable?

3 02 2010

Last night I attended a great event on Day 1 of Social Media Week here in Toronto. There was some great conversation, quite animated at times. What I found really surprising however, was the number of people at the event who still didn’t believe that social media’s impact was measurable. I personally don’t understand why people are still so uncomfortable about measuring social media. Just look at traditional forms of media such as television. How would you measure impact? Through GRPs, TRPs or impressions? How would you measure the impact of an OOH campaign? Impressions again? How do you think thats calculated?

When you really think about it, Social Media can actually let you track your prospects movement right from the time they happen to consume your content to the time they enter and complete your sales pipeline. Social Media conversions are actual conversions, not estimates. When someone says my digital campaign had an ROI of x%, its actually quite close to the real number. So, I ask you again, is it really about measurement or is it just a matter of having an open mind and giving something a try?!

Understanding your Transmitter / Receiver make-up.

21 12 2009

Here’s a fantastic presentation that you must check out, if you haven’t already! Its the Social Media Study for 2009 By People from Cossette.

While the presentation talks about a lot of great statistics, I had one key take-away from it. If you’re looking to figure out whether nows the right time for your organization to get serious about social media – you may want to start by trying to understand your Transmitter/Receive make-up (refer to slide 31). As the slide indicates, there will be 2 types of Transmitters and 2 types of Receivers. On the Transmitter side, you might want to involve people from your organization, people from external agencies that work closely with you or even certain customers. By figuring out who falls into what category, you might be able to get a better sense of the kind of content you will be capable of producing. The same goes on the Receiver side as well. However, you may not always be able to find clear data. In many industries, social media adoption has been so slow that one can’t base decisions on existing patterns. So, in cases like that you might have to rely on your gut feeling as well…but at least you’ll be able to set better expectations and hopefully meet them one step at a time.

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#Ad – Why it won’t work!

24 11 2009

I saw a tweet this morning from April Dunford (A product marketing consultant from the tech industry…who I obviously follow) and it prompted me to write this blog post.

Lets face it, the #ad model’s not going to work on Twitter. Why? Well, it’s simple. If your ads on twitter have to be effective, you need to have followers who could possibly consume your advertising. Unfortunately, just like April, there will be many others who will stop following you the moment you start advertising (explicitly…we all currently advertise, but in more subtle ways) using your Twitter account. This will basically undermine your credibility and reduce the effectiveness and reach of your ads.

Net result: An unsustainable process/model. Sorry…!




The Illusion of Brand Control: Not quite an illusion.

17 11 2009

Here’s a link to a great article by Andrew Mcafee from HBR Voices.

This article really got me excited, and I have a lot of things to say about it. Hopefully I can cram it all in here.

I completely agree with Andrew that content is no longer limited to that produced by a company. Consumers have found an easy way to express themselves through the means of social media. Hence, Andrew’s argument about it being an illusion to control  conversations about your brand holds good. While I don’t disagree with Andrew, I do think there are other ways to control brand conversations in the web 2.0 era. So I’m going to take a crack at explaining how one could actually not only control what people say about a brand but also influence it, in a positive way!

1. Understand your consumers’ subculture – their behaviour, identify key influencers and study them. Remember in school when you always looked up to the kid who was awesome at sports and always had the cutest girl in class as his girlfriend (I did!). Your brand needs to be him! (Apologies for a very male driven analogy…but school was hard!)

2. Once you’ve nailed down your brand’s essence, stay true to it….no matter what! When your consumers see you acting a certain way, using a certain vocabulary and behaving a certain way – they will choose to follow you, thereby becoming brand ambassadors.

3. Finally, be a brand asshole!

Think that your brand is the best in the world and that you know more about it than anyone else on this planet. This confidence will help ensure that only you (or your company’s key spokesperson) are taken seriously when it comes to news about the brand/product.

Think Steve Jobs (man, I was trying to avoid Apple’s example for once…but it always catches up to you!).